When to Get a Dedicated Circuit
If you’re constantly resetting a circuit breaker only for them to trip again when you turn on a major appliance, you may need to move to a dedicated circuit. A dedicated circuit transmits an electrical current to one major appliance; no other appliance or device draws electricity from this circuit. This is different from a shared circuit, which splits electrical currents into multiple loads (or devices). Dedicated circuits help prevent unsafe overheating and those frustrating circuit breaker trips during an electrical current overload.
A dedicated circuit has its own circuit breaker in your electrical box, which helps prevent electrical overloads and reduce the risk of an electrical fire. Although both dedicated and shared circuit breakers will automatically trip if a circuit overheats, a dedicated circuit limits the amount of current capable of running through it, almost completely eliminating the possibility of overload or overheating. There are many reasons why homes require dedicated circuits. Dedicated circuits also help prevent having to reset a tripped breaker as frequently, keep the breaker from wearing out so quickly, and lessen the risk of damaging your major appliances.
Make sure your home’s electrical circuits are up to date according to the National Electrical Code (NEC). The National Fire Protection Association set this code to safeguard people and property from electrical hazards. It is considered the benchmark for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection across all U.S. states.
The NEC requires that major home appliances and heat-producing devices have their own dedicated circuit. These include refrigerators, HVAC systems, dishwashers, garbage disposals, hot tubs, and more.
Smaller appliances like microwaves, toasters, and even hairdryers sometimes need a dedicated circuit. If you’re unsure, check the appliance installation manual or consult with a licensed electrician.
It’s essential to choose the right sized circuit for the appliance it serves. If the circuit is too small, the appliance can cause the breaker to trip repeatedly and eventually wear out the circuit. This can lead to overheating and electrical fires. An informed electrician can suggest the right circuit for your needs.
Projects pertaining to electrical systems can be a bit advanced for a DIY; it’s best to call out a local licensed electrician to install any dedicated circuits safely and with the correct amperage required for your home.
If you’re experiencing frequent circuit breaker trips or notice a burning smell coming from the electrical panel, you may need to install a dedicated circuit. That said, it is worth having a pro investigate whether your appliances need a dedicated breaker or if it’s a bad circuit breaker that’s causing your problems. A faulty circuit breaker can be a major fire hazard, and it is not something to ignore.